Copper has a long and storied history in the Great Lakes region, particularly in relation to the Ojibwe people. The Ojibwe, also known as the Anishinaabe, are a Nation that has lived in the Great Lakes region for thousands of years. They have a long history of using copper, which was abundant in the region and played a significant role in their culture and economy.
Isle Royale, a small island located in Lake Superior, has a rich history of copper mining that dates back to ancient times. The Ojibwe are believed to be the first to mine copper on the island. The Ojibwe Grand Medicine Society, also known as the Midewiwin, is a traditional religious and social organization among the Ojibwe. It is believed to have originated on Isle Royale and to have played a significant role in the copper mining industry on the island.
Morrisseau’s Art, Copper and the Thunderbird
Norval Morrisseau, also known by his Anishinaabe name Copper Thunderbird, was a highly influential Indigenous artist from the Ojibwe nation. He is credited with pioneering the Woodland School of art, which is characterized by bright, bold colors and strong, flowing lines. Morrisseau is known for his powerful and expressive paintings, which often depict traditional Ojibwe stories, legends, and symbols.
Morrisseau’s shamanic name, Copper Thunderbird, is thought to have been inspired by the traditional Ojibwe belief in the power of copper and the importance of the thunderbird in Ojibwe culture. The thunderbird is a powerful and revered spirit in Ojibwe mythology, and it is believed to have the power to control the weather. Copper has a long history of significance among the Ojibwe. It was used for a variety of purposes, including crafting tools, weapons, and ceremonial items. Copper was also believed to have spiritual and medicinal properties.
In his art, Morrisseau often incorporated themes and symbols from Ojibwe culture, including the thunderbird and copper. His work has had a significant impact on contemporary Indigenous art and has helped to preserve and promote traditional Ojibwe stories and symbols. Morrisseau passed away in 2007, but his legacy as a pioneering artist and cultural ambassador lives on.